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Tuesday, September 9

Mrs. Elton Sez: Buggin and Clueless Over a Rejection!

Hey girlfriend,

Like, you must think me totally buggin for writin to you and all, but I really need your help Mrs. Elton. Dionne, she’s my best, thinks I’m such a Betty, but I feel like a total Monet today. I mean, you get it right? Elton, who is this way cool boy I like and want to give over to, is like so not getting it. I wear my new Calvin Kleins and Gucci and flip my hair and give him the hard stare and pouty lips, but no go. When I invite him over, he wants to watch Tony Curtis in Sporadacus. As if? At this rate, I will be a Joannie at the dance, a dweeb for all enternity, and laughed at by my meres if he does not like me. It would be so totally awesome Mrs. Elton is you could like clue me in on how to get this guy. I have my reputation to withhold, fer sure!

Your friend, Clueless in Beverly Hills,

Cher Horowitz

Mrs. Elton's Sermon to Cher

Your language is odd and new, to be sure, Miss Cher, but I do believe I understand the tenor of your song perfectly. You wish to attract a young man, is it not so? In whatever language you speak (are you from Ireland, by the by? That is my conjecture; for your brogue is really quite charming in its peasant-like fashion), these matters are always the same. Nothing is new in love and war, as Shakespeare said, or Milton at any rate, and when it comes to Love, you have come to the right place; for have I not secured the most excellent husband in the world, and that without being a great beauty or having a vast fortune? Yes; I won Mr. Elton, the handsomest reverend gentleman that ever was, purely through Love; and therefore I am extremely well qualified to instruct you in how to do the same.

The secret and the answer are this: The key to everything worth having, is Modesty. Modesty, my dear Cher, will always win hearts. Since you have sadly been untaught in the ways of Modesty, in barbaric County Fermanagh or from wherever your peasant forebears sprung, you need instruction in ladyhood from the very foundation of that sacred ideal. It is true that you never can become a real lady - mere money does not alter a person's class - but it is only natural that you should wish to appear as much like a lady as possible. Such lessons never can do harm, unless they encourage a young woman to step outside her station. That, however, is hardly the danger here, I perceive, for I am aware that your father is very rich, and your family are not likely to return to the servant class within the next few generations at least. Therefore, I will show my own good nature in informing you, firstly, that you must always keep your eyes cast modestly down upon the floor. Even when the young man addresses you directly, you must never look at his face or into his eyes: that would be the mark of a bold girl without shame. Secondly, you must always wear a close bonnet, of some dove-like colour; and speak very low. Remember, "Her voice was ever gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman." That is my dear husband's very favourite Bible verse, and he says it to me very constantly; several times a day in fact. Sometimes I can hardly make him hear what I am saying, he is reciting his verse so steadily, almost like a chant; but I only raise my voice and speak a little louder, and he is sure to hear then. What a *very* good man he is.

I think, however, you understand my meaning, and I need not give farther examples. Never go walking alone, always wear your gowns with the bosom filled in on top, and covering your ancles below; if you cannot colour naturally, pinch your cheeks so he will think you are under a continual blush. Such little tricks cannot be called by the name of deceptions; they are only aids to modesty, and modesty, you may depend on it, is what you must practice by day and by night. If your companions, such as Dionne and Betty and Monet, can also be modest, that will be well; although to say the truth, if you are the most, or the only, modest girl in the group, you will stand out all the more. Young men always admire modesty, even when they chase after another sort of girl entirely; it is the modest one who gets the proposal, as you will shortly see for yourself, and bless me for.

And this brings me to a delicate question. I presume you have chosen me as your confidante out of a hope that I may be related to the object of your affections, whom you refer to informally as Elton. That is true; when I was in America one of my sons remained behind, and went out West; this will be his descendant, and naturally I feel a marked interest in the sort of match he makes. The Horowitz fortune will of course be attractive to him, as it would to any young man; but no descendant of mine would marry merely for money, and it will take more than that to fix young Elton, I can assure you, my dear Miss Cher. Only a lady can hope to succeed with him. So practice your modest ways, my dear; and if I may give you one more hint, privately, in your ear - it would be well if you could see your way to converting to the Church of England. You may be as rich as a Jew, but an Elton must marry within the church, and Jews and Irish Catholics, though they may be a very respectable sort of people in their way, cannot be included in the description of what is now called Anglican in America. However, these matters naturally come more into my husband's sphere, and he will have a good deal more to say to you on this subject, I have no doubt. I will let my preachment of Modesty be all my sermon.

Faithfully yours,

Mrs. Elton

Mrs. Elton Sez is written/channeled by Austen-esque author Diana Birchall, whose latest book, Mrs. Elton In America, is now available. Please join her once a week for her sage and sometimes sardonic voice, as she graciously condescends to advise on a variety of subjects. Laurel Ann and Vic admit to channeling their Regency doppelgängers as they take turns writing the letters. They are usually surprised by Mrs. Elton's responses, whose mind is as unpredictable and lively as her tongue.

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